The JEDI contract involves accelerating the cloud computing capacity and improving access to advanced artificial intelligence (AI) for a period of 10 years. With the industry seeing consistent strong double digit growth, this will put Microsoft in prime position to secure future government cloud contracts and could lead to more opportunities with large global businesses. The contract comes after Microsoft Azure achieved industry leading growth under CEO Satya Nadella. This has come as a result of the firm shifting focus from operating systems to cloud based projects.
The planned contract was first announced in 2018, taking over 18 months to be finalized. Protests from Oracle and IBM led to delays in the process. Prior to this, AWS was the firm favorite due to the company’s $600m CIA contract, signed in 2013, and wider service offering. The delays themselves were hugely beneficial to Microsoft, which developed new services and achieved a higher security classification in the period.
Microsoft now must face the issue of whether a close relationship with the military could cause future problems. Google pulled out of the race for the JEDI contract “citing that they couldn’t be assured that it would align with their AI principles”. Some Microsoft workers had campaigned for the firm to drop the $479m IVAS contract with the US Army in February and have expressed opposition to the JEDI deal.